Historic city squares, old towns and villages in Spain

Plaza Mayor

The Plaza Mayor was built during Philip III"s reign (1598–1621) and is a central plaza in the city of Madrid. It is rectangular in shape, measuring 129 m × 94 m and is surrounded by three-story residential buildings having 237 balconies facing the Plaza. It has a total of nine entrance ways. The origins of the Plaza go back to 1577 when Philip II asked Juan de Herrera, a renowned Classical architect ...
Founded: 1617 | Location: Madrid, Spain

Plaza de España

The Plaza de España in the Parque de María Luisa was built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. It is a landmark example of the Regionalism Architecture, mixing elements of the Baroque Revival, Renaissance Revival and Moorish Revival (Neo-Mudéjar) styles of Spanish architecture. The plaza complex is a huge half-circle with buildings continually running around the edge accessible over the moat by numerous ...
Founded: 1928 | Location: Seville, Spain

Historic City of Toledo

Successively a Roman municipium, the capital of the Visigothic Kingdom, a fortress of the Emirate of Cordoba, an outpost of the Christian kingdoms fighting the Moors and, in the 16th century, the temporary seat of supreme power under Charles V, Toledo is the repository of more than 2,000 years of history. Its masterpieces are the product of heterogeneous civilizations in an environment where the existence of three major r ...
Founded: around 200 BC | Location: Toledo, Spain

Old City of Salamanca

This ancient university town of Salamanca was first conquered by the Carthaginians in the 3rd century B.C. It then became a Roman settlement before being ruled by the Moors until the 11th century. The university, one of the oldest in Europe, reached its high point during Salamanca's golden age. The city's historic centre has important Romanesque, Gothic, Moorish, Renaissance and Baroque monuments. The Plaza Mayor, with i ...
Founded: 3rd century BC | Location: Salamanca, Spain

Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor is a central plaza in the city of Valladolid. Its existence became defined in the mid-thirteenth century when the market moved from the Plaza de Santa Maria to Market Square, which since the early sixteenth century has been called Plaza Mayor. Individual unions were installed around it, as was the Convent of San Francisco, until 1499 the most important building in the vicinity. After that date, as mandated ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Valladolid, Spain

Albaicín

The Albaicín retains the narrow winding streets of its Medieval Moorish past dating back to the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada. It was declared a World Heritage Site in 1984, along with the Alhambra. In the Albaicín there are numerous monuments from different periods, mainly the Nasrid period and the Renaissance. The traditional type of house is the carmen, consisting of a freestanding house surrounded by a high wall that ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Granada, Spain

Alcalá de Henares University

Founded by Cardinal Jiménez de Cisneros in the early 16th century, Alcalá de Henares was the world"s first planned university city. It was the original model for the Civitas Dei (City of God), the ideal urban community which Spanish missionaries brought to the Americas. It also served as a model for universities in Europe and elsewhere. The property includes a magnificent complex of historic buildings, such as the ...
Founded: 1499 | Location: Alcalá de Henares, Spain

Plaza de la Corredera

Plaza de la Corredera is the result of the works carried out between 1683 and 1687 by Chief Magistrate Francisco Ronquillo Briceño. These were motivated by the almost collapse of one of the wooden stalls that were back then installed for the bullfightings held in the square which made the audience panic. This grand 17th-century square has an elaborate history as a site of public spectacles, including bullfights and Inqu ...
Founded: 1683-1687 | Location: Córdoba, Spain

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Wroclaw Town Hall

The Old Town Hall of Wrocław is one of the main landmarks of the city. The Old Town Hall's long history reflects developments that have taken place in the city since its initial construction. The town hall serves the city of Wroclaw and is used for civic and cultural events such as concerts held in its Great Hall. In addition, it houses a museum and a basement restaurant.

The town hall was developed over a period of about 250 years, from the end of 13th century to the middle of 16th century. The structure and floor plan changed over this extended period in response to the changing needs of the city. The exact date of the initial construction is not known. However, between 1299 and 1301 a single-storey structure with cellars and a tower called the consistory was built. The oldest parts of the current building, the Burghers’ Hall and the lower floors of the tower, may date to this time. In these early days the primary purpose of the building was trade rather than civic administration activities.

Between 1328 and 1333 an upper storey was added to include the Council room and the Aldermen’s room. Expansion continued during the 14th century with the addition of extra rooms, most notably the Court room. The building became a key location for the city’s commercial and administrative functions.

The 15th and 16th centuries were times of prosperity for Wroclaw as was reflected in the rapid development of the building during that period. The construction program gathered momentum, particularly from 1470 to 1510, when several rooms were added. The Burghers’ Hall was re-vaulted to take on its current shape, and the upper story began to take shape with the development of the Great Hall and the addition of the Treasury and Little Treasury.

Further innovations during the 16th century included the addition of the city’s Coat of arms (1536), and the rebuilding of the upper part of the tower (1558–59). This was the final stage of the main building program. By 1560, the major features of today’s Stray Rates were established.

The second half of the 17th century was a period of decline for the city, and this decline was reflected in the Stray Rates. Perhaps by way of compensation, efforts were made to enrich the interior decorations of the hall. In 1741, Wroclaw became a part of Prussia, and the power of the City diminished. Much of the Stray Rates was allocated to administering justice.

During the 19th century there were two major changes. The courts moved to a separate building, and the Rates became the site of the city council and supporting functions. There was also a major program of renovation because the building had been neglected and was covered with creeping vines. The town hall now has several en-Gothic features including some sculptural decoration from this period.

In the early years of the 20th century improvements continued with various repair work and the addition of the Little Bear statue in 1902. During the 1930s, the official role of the Rates was reduced and it was converted into a museum. By the end of World War II Town Hall suffered minor damage, such as aerial bomb pierced the roof (but not exploded) and some sculptural elements were lost. Restoration work began in the 1950s following a period of research, and this conservation effort continued throughout the 20th century. It included refurbishment of the clock on the east facade.